Creative Networks – James Jessop, Artistic Vandal
If I’m totally honest, I’ve not heard about Creative Networks before but it seems to be somewhat of a hidden Leeds gem. Essentially a ‘free monthly network event for creative professionals’ the aim is to ‘share ideas, make interesting collaborations or just to enjoy the buzz’. This month, Leeds College of Art teamed their end of year show with the event, a talk by James Jessop Artistic Vandal. And, if you’ve not heard of him before, as I hadn’t before the show, I’d definitely recommend checking his work out!
Arriving early at the show we sampled work from the advertising course which included some rather spectacular life size advertising student doll boxes incorporating several real-life marketing creatives and, a photography exhibition where the lifespan of a chicken sparked some interesting discussions! Venturing outside to the courtyard we were entertained with two drummers playing some funky beats, whilst James Jessop sprayed one of his signature Kong pieces. The atmosphere reminded me of some of the independent shows I’ve been to at the Faversham, where artists sprayed outside and DJs played inside, very relaxed. I love watching artists at work, and this proved to be no exception. Before we could finish our drinks we were being ushered into the lecture theatre for the beginning of the talk (although I knew we weren’t late when I saw James Jessop nip to the loo whilst I was walking in!)
After a short ‘technical difficulty’, we were introduced to James via a 10 minute video clip of his pilgrimage to New York and when I say pilgrimage, this is exactly what I mean! James went on to explain his love for street art, especially graffiti from 1980s New York, and his memories of meeting some graffiti greats in New York’s mecca of old skool subway art.
We followed his journey through his take on art, from his connection to students through the tools of Posca pens, to the horror B movie posters that he used in his work for Saatchi exhibitions. The way he described slapping on a pair of headphones, pumping out some 90s Jungle whilst painting, and getting this art noticed as a student was brimming with passion. I don’t think I would ever have coupled pre WW1 futurism with 1980s New York Graffiti, but he made the link seem like such a simple discovery, and the works he produced as a result of this discovery were outstanding.
I could talk about James Jessop’s work for hours, but I don’t think that’s what this blog is meant to be about, and self-discovery is always a good thing! All I can say is that the audience seemed shell shocked by his journey, and with an impromptu question and answer session at the end no one really knew what to say! He reminded me of a lot of the young artists I have met, and I couldn’t think of a better person to talk at an event like this.
It was interesting to hear discussions of Jessop’s work combined with the end of year show, and how street artists can be active on the street as well as in the studio. I found it refreshing to hear people talking about street art, which seems like a young person’s art scene, in such admiration, something I’m sure James Jessop would have been happy about!
Marrying the end of year show with a Creative Networks event was an inspired touch, and having James Jessop discussing his work was the cherry on top. During my final years of being a student in Leeds, I sometimes felt an uncomfortable distance from the professionals working in ‘town’. Events that gather a mix of professionals and students in a creative atmosphere is something that should be encouraged. Leeds College of Art and Creative Networks should both be proud of the events on Thursday, and I would definitely go back for more of the same.